Monday, February 15, 2010

Potpourri CXXII

Apologies for the long delay in posting. My apartment got flooded after my water heater had a gusher, saturating the carpet and resulting in a four-day exile to the Hotel du Despair. A slight moldy smell emanating from my closet, but the rest of the place is okay for now. We'll see how long it takes before I exile myself to get the carpet replaced. Grrrr...Okay then...having straightened up that little mess (more or less--new bookcases are on order just because), let us continue with this evening's festivities.

First up from D2, a site dedicated to space architecture. Pretty cool!

For reasons that elude me, Fox News decided to post some pictures of Nazi Germany's "Amerika Bomber," a hypersonic vehicle that was skirt/bounce off of the atmosphere before reaching and dropping a nuclear device on New York City. The U.S. government has been looking at a vehicle like this for awhile. I confess to a certain curiosity about the plane, but don't think I'd want to fly in it.

For reasons that amuse me, I am posting this link to Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy. It's relevant, folks, regardless of the type of bureaucracy you work for. Just sayin'.

Okay, I'm sorry, if you're in the world's tallest building, there's no such thing as a minor lift (elevator) “incident." As Dr. OZMG might say, "Eep!"

Space exploration and education is always a favorite topic of mine. Here's something from my NASA PAO (Public Affairs Office) feed:

RELEASE: 10-039


HOUSTON -- NASA and Texas Instruments are using the theme of human space exploration to develop digital libraries of math and science problems for high school students. The goal is to bring real-world topics in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, into classrooms to spark students' excitement and interest in these critical career fields.

The collaboration will produce two digital libraries. One, called Exploring Space Through Math: Applications in High School Mathematics, will provide problems based on NASA data that are set in the context of space exploration. The project material will cover almost the entire high school math curriculum, with applications in Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and Pre-Calculus.

The other digital library, named Science at Work: Exploring Space with NASA-AP, will contain questions for Advanced Placement classes. This program seeks to develop and test problems in calculus, statistics, physics, chemistry and biology.

"As students solve real problems NASA faces in space exploration, they will practice during high school and college the skills necessary to pursue a career in a STEM field," said Charles Lloyd, NASA's lead for the effort and program manager for Human Research Program Education and Outreach at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "NASA and Texas Instruments are passionate about motivating the next generation's interest in science and math subjects and equipping these students to take us farther into space and improve our lives here on Earth."

The libraries of questions will use NASA applications and data while incorporating Texas Instruments' math learning technology. Each problem includes student and teacher editions to help the teacher link content to higher concepts.

"Our goal is to make STEM subjects more fun and interactive," said Werner Garciano, director of Professional Development for Texas Instruments' Education Technology. "Working with NASA is a great opportunity to bring exciting, real-world math experiences into the classroom. Our collaboration will expand the digital content and professional development that Texas Instruments provides teachers, and will help engage students more deeply in math. Together, we believe these activities will break through to students who have never considered a STEM career path."

Both projects will be available in the fall of 2010 on NASA's Web site. With this program, NASA continues its investment in engaging and retaining students in STEM disciplines critical to the agency's future engineering, scientific, and technical missions. For more information about NASA's education programs, visit:

For more information about NASA's Human Research Program Education and

Outreach, visit:  

The digital libraries also will be available through Texas Instruments' Teachers Teaching with Technology workshops and online at the Texas Instruments' Activities Exchange at:


Ever wonder how much blood and treasure is being wasted at one of your corporate meetings? Check this out.

Speaking of Dr. OZMG, she sent me this little moment of surrealism from The Onion.

This was sent to everyone at Marshall Space Flight Center by someone named Markeeva Morgan. I should probably know who Markeeva is, but regardless, I liked this link from TED about questioning our assumptions.

From Tracy: Here's another space policy author I probably need to review.

For aspiring high school and college students interested in a) space-based solar power and b) winning $2,000 for your trouble, there's a contest sponsored out of India that is offering a prize for just such a thing.

Boeing has executed the first flight of the 747-8 freighter, the largest aircraft it has ever built.

From Erika: For my local readers interested in developing their leadership skills, here's a program for the Huntsville/Madison County area.

From Dar: A group activity on "crowdsourcing change." No, I don't know what that means, either. Oh, wait. Try this:

“Crowdsourcing Change” will be a highly participatory event where attendees will have an opportunity to help three “Social Changers” who are using –or trying to use — the social web for the common good. The way it will work is that presenters will first explain the change they are trying to achieve through social media. Attendees, with the help of a moderator, will then provide feedback, ideas, constructive criticism and concrete instructions to help the presenters succeed. This is a great opportunity to learn and to have an impact.”
Just check it out.

On a similar line of thought, here's an article on how IBM uses social media to encourage innovation by their employees.

Some folks are still trying to stop "nerd" from being a dirty word, lest the general herd mentality in our public schools eventually pounds the snot out of anyone with an I.Q. one point higher than the average...which, of course, would lower the average, but I digress. IMHO, one can send bullies to as many counseling and Kum-Bah-Yah sessions as one wants; but until the social dynamics, rules, and rewards/punishments are restructured and enforced, weak-chinned, brainy kids will continue to get stuffed into lockers by their less intelligent, more muscular peers. Again, just sayin'.

An editorial by Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham on the recent proposed budget cut to NASA. Mr. Cunningham says things pretty well on his own, so I don't need to comment further.

Speaking of Dar, one of her favorite topics is using the Internet to make government more open and accessible to private citizens. Here's NASA's site dedicated to doing just that. And there's also this bit from Dar herself on doing science outreach at your local saloon.

From Homer Hickam: a new short story on the future of our space program.

And believe it or not, I have cleared out my inbox for the moment. Be good to yourselves and others. You never know when someone else is having a bad day.

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